Dear Friends, Fellow Hunters & Adventurers
During September, we had the pleasure doing a combined plains game hunt and photo safari with Mr. John April and his wife Mary-Kay. Enjoy the report from John's own pen...
A lifetime goal to hunt in Africa was on its way to becoming a reality when my wife and I arrived in George, South Africa in September 2017.
ELEPHANT ENCOUNTERS... We had plans for 5 days of sight-seeing and 5 days of hunting, spending our first night at the Knysna Elephant Park where we were able to feed, ride and spend the night with the elephants. This was a great opportunity to unwind from the long flight and relax before the hunt. After our unique opportunity with the elephants, we took a short drive to a little town called Groot Brak where we walked with the lions. The incredible experience of seeing the lions up close was followed by a scenic drive to the hunting lodge.
GEMSBUCK HUNT... Our first morning of the hunt barely got underway when we spotted a couple of nice Gemsbuck and the stalk was on. We got within range but I was a little slow getting the rifle on the sticks, they spotted us and off they ran. It turned out to be good fortune because they joined up with a larger group which included a very nice bull. I was able to get a solid rest from an elevated vantage point and dropped him in his tracks.
Hunting would not be hunting if all efforts were completely fortunate... Our next day of hunting found us chasing after Kudu. It was very windy which seemed to have the animals taking cover. We spotted a group of 3 bulls but they disappeared before we could get in position for a shot. Later we found 2 more bulls but they also managed to elude us. The afternoon was spent glassing. We saw quite a few cows and a few young bulls but nothing worth pursuing.
KUDU AND ZEBRA IN ONE DAY... We hunted another property the following day and quickly found a couple nice Kudu as they headed off into the bush. Piet picked up their tracks and we followed them till we could get an open shot. Seconds later we had my second African trophy on the ground. Since it was early in the morning Piet field dressed the Kudu and hung him in the shade while we continued the hunt. This was a great plains game hunt!
We located a group of Eland and Zebra on top of a hill, both were on my wish list. We got in position to have the wind in our favor and began the climb. As we got near the top of the hill, a Zebra was standing there looking at us. I got the rifle on the sticks while Piet checked the range, but before I could get a steady aim he took off. We continued to walk a short distance around the side of the hill and found him again looking at us from the top of the hill. This time there was no delay in getting on the sticks and taking the shot. The Zebra and Eland came running off the hill, we watched the Zebra as they ran for signs of a hit. We saw nothing. As we headed off in the direction that they had come from I was beginning to doubt myself and worry that I had blown the shot. Fortunately, it was unfounded as we found him piled up a short distance from where we had last seen him.
ELAND HUNT... The following day we were back after Eland. We found 3 nice bulls just as they were cresting a hill and disappearing behind some brush. We got on their trail and Piet spotted them again as they were slowly feeding up the next hill and about to disappear. It was a long shot with a stiff cross breeze but I was able to lie down, get a solid rest and take my Eland.
CANGO CAVES... A break from the hunting enabled us a day of sightseeing where we traveled outside of Oudtshoorn to the Cango Caves. The caves were impressive with spectacular mineral formations. We chose the adventure tour taking us deeper into the caves walking, crawling and climbing through little spaces. Cheetah Encounter... Down the road, we stopped at the Cango Wildlife Ranch where we toured the area seeing a variety of animal species. We ended our time there with an animal encounter interacting with a junior cheetah.
Beautiful photo safari in the rugged Swartberg Pass... Our final morning was spent with a trip through Swartberg Pass, one of the greatest mountain passes in the world. We arrived at the Swartberg Private Game Reserve in the afternoon where we did a game drive with Amanda. We were able to view a wide variety of African game including Cape Buffalo. We spent the night in the lodge and woke to Springbok outside our bedroom window.
As we reflect back on our 10 days in South Africa, this trip was such an awesome experience due to the efforts of Piet, Amanda and the entire staff at Safari Njema. The accommodations were lovely with such beautiful scenery and the meals were fantastic. We had the luxury of trying the different animal meats every day of our stay. The company, conversation and the doggies too made for such a homey and welcoming stay. We created some wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.
Thank you Safari Njema for making our dream plains game hunt and vacation a reality. We had such a great time and plan on coming back. Hope to see you in 2020!
John & Mary-Kay